Tag Archives: hospital

Ativan 

So here is part two of my addiction story….

During my many chemo sessions, it became apparent to not only myself, but to all of the nurses working in oncology, that I was developing MAJOR anxiety before even stepping foot into the clinic. My oncologist wrote me a prescription for a drug called Ativan (also known as Lorazepam) and told me to put two under my tongue an hour before each appointment. Well I did, and they did nothing. I kept the bottle in my cupboard at home and thought nothing of them. 

Before each and every surgery the same thing would happen – I would have a major anxiety attack. After the first major blow out I was also prescribed Ativan to be taken 30 minutes before being called into the operating room. Just like with the chemo anxiety, they did nothing. 

All I ever knew about this drug was that is was to help with my anxiety. From my experiences I thought it just didn’t work for me. 

While packing in March to head on my Thailand and Australian adventure, I was taking out the Advil bottle and noticed the bottle of Ativan. “Perfect find!”, I thought to myself. Just in case I have an anxiety attack while away, I will have something to help calm me down. I made an appointment with my family doctor before leaving, and told him that I had a bottle of Ativan and it never worked for me before. He then prescribed me a bottle of Clonazepam, and said they might work better for me. 

Both Lorazepam and Clonazepam belong to the drug class known as benzodiazepines. They act on the brain and nerves and produce a calming effect. 

While on the 17 hour flight to Hong Kong, my panic set in. So I popped a Clonazepam and low and behold, I felt nothing. 

Great. My anxiety levels are too high for these drugs apparently. 

A few days later, finally in Thailand, I was having some anxiety before bed and thought I would try just one of the Ativans. 

The following day I woke up and could not believe it – I actually had a full nights rest! 

I have not slept through the night since I don’t even remember. With my multiple keloids on the body, and the anxiety and pressure from this cancer world, I toss and turn throughout the night. But now, I feel rested and AMAZING. Well, this is a miracle. 

I decided right then and there, I would take one each night to help me sleep. They did not make me groggy or even put me to sleep. But what they did do is KEEP me asleep. Which was the best thing I had experienced in a long while. 

In May I went for my consultation with my surgeron for my upcoming surgery, and I told him about how Ativan has helped me, and if he could right me another prescription. He did, but only for 3 months because he said he wasn’t allowed to write one for longer than that. Well that’s annoying, but I thought nothing of it. 

I dropped off my scrip and when I went to pick it up the next day, the pharmacist let me know that I was NOT allowed to get my next 30 day refill till the actual day it was due. Ok, sure lady. Again, I thought nothing of it. 

Now in August, I made an appoint with my family doctor again to have my pre-op for my colonoscopy. During our talk he saw I wrote down that I was taking Ativan. That reminded me, my three month prescription was almost up. So I asked him to write me a new one. 

“Are you addicted?” He quickly asked. 

“Um no. You know me I hate taking drugs. This I just use to help keep me asleep. No big deal.”

“Ok. You are a special case. With everything you’ve been through I can understand if these help you.”

I was so confused. Why was he being so weird? 

“Are these super addictive or something?”

“YES. Very much so. But you are different than most people and I know you wouldn’t be taking something unless you truly needed it.”

He wrote the prescription and told me to just have the pharmacy fax him every three months for a new one. 

I went home and spoke to Chris about my conversation with my doctor. He and I agreed that if it was helping me right now, then it’s ok. 

Later that night I got into bed, took my pill, and then began googling “How bad is Ativan?” – oh the things that came up. So many blog posts about people who were given it in the hospital, and it took them months and sometimes YEARS to get over the withdrawal. It explained how it is the most additive drug and that you should start with a low dose of 0.25mg. 

Holy crap I was taking 1mg! 

The next day I woke up and said, “Nope, I’m never taking that again.” 

The following day I woke up, and was instantly in withdrawal. My skin was crawling, my heart was beating out of my chest, I felt super anxious and couldn’t stop crying. Just a complete mess. I didn’t know what to do. If I took a pill to stop it, I would still have to take one at night – so then I would be taking two pills in one day. That wasn’t the answer. I called my doctor but he wasn’t in that day, and I was told he would call me on Monday – this was Friday. 

I cried and cried to Chris – I was so mad at myself for getting into this predicament. I started reading online how hard it was to come off of this drug, and that got me even more scared. Chris was amazing and calmed me down. He let me know that I am not a drug addict, that my case is different. If I needed this to help me get to sleep then so be it. 

I, on the other hand, did not agree. I couldn’t live with myself if I knew I was taking a drug that was highly addictive. I think it would cause me more stress. From all of my readings it seemed like the best way to get off of it was to slowly drop your dose down. So Friday night I took a pill, and then I decided Saturday I would not. When it came time for Sunday I though, hell I will roll the dice and just not take one tonight either. On the Monday I felt the withdrawal, but it wasn’t overwhelming as it was on Friday. When my doctor finally called I told him my predicament and he said very firmly, “Do not go off of this drug cold turkey. You have to gradually take it out of your system.” 

Well as we all know by now, I rarely listen to doctors. 

So I decided to push myself, and if it got too bad at any point I would give myself permission to take a pill. 

It took about two weeks, but I finally began to feel back to normal. Now, here is the craziest part. My depression also has seemed to have left. I no longer feel as though I am living in this dark hole. I truly believe that has to do with being off of the drug. I still have my days obviously, but they are not a constant anymore. 

My sleeping is back to being scattered, but now I am looking for more natural remedies to help with this. 

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Finding The Word

Crying has become a part of my everyday life. It is just something that happens and I am almost getting used to it. During my most recent therapy session, my therapist wanted to know why. She wanted me to seek the reason as to why I cry. It started with me describing the memories that like to pop up in my mind daily. All of the ones of me in the hospital, getting poked and pulled and crying out for help. So then the question was, why are these memories the most prominent? What was the common thread that linked these together? I couldn’t figure it out, so we moved on. She then asked, if you could use one word to describe why you cry, what would that be? I had no idea which made the tears come even harder.

Vulnerable. I cry because I feel so vulnerable now.

No, that’s not it.

Independence. I cry for my loss of independence.

No, that doesn’t work either.

Misunderstood. I cry because no one really understands me.

Nope.

Grief. I cry as I am grieving the life I once had.

Dammit that’s not it either.

Then I thought about the hospital, and the memories that haunted me the most. The ones that like to creep into my thoughts and distract me from all of the positive. What was the common link?

No one was there.

When I was having anxiety attacks on operating room tables. I was crying and begging them to stop because I was scared. They would hold me down as I struggled and I would look up the bright light and wish it would all be over.

When my blood pressure spiked and my heart felt like it was coming out of my chest. I kept fading in and out of consciousness and thought I was dying.

When I was told they had to pull my liver drain out at my bedside and they would not wait for my family to come to hold my hand.

When I was struggling to stand and I had to call the nurse to wipe me after the washroom.

When they stabbed my arms and held me down trying to insert a picc line.

Nurses and doctors were there, sure. For the most part they were so friendly and helpful, but they are not family. I also fully understand it is impossible for family to be in the hospital 24/7, so I don’t blame anybody.

So now that we have figured out the common link, is that the reason I cry so often? What is the word that I feel would best describe my feelings in general?

Alone. That’s the word.

No matter how much I explain, no matter who was there for what, no one has been there for it all. No one is in my head having to live with these thoughts, and the ones described above are just a handful of them.

Alone does not only describe those moments, but so many others. I have met a lot of wonderful people who can better understand my experiences, but no one fully can. No one I have met has had 6 surgeries. No one I have met has been told twice that they are inoperable.

So now that I have named it, I have to work on accepting it. There will never be anyone who will fully understand other than myself. So that is the next step. I am working on it, alone.

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Food Poisoning

Well this was a first that I do not welcome into my life ever again. And here I was thinking that throwing up on chemo was bad. Oh no – food poisoning is like no other. I am pretty positive that is what was wrong with me- although the doctors have no way of proving it. It started at 3:30am and was every half an hour until 4:00pm. Right around 1:00pm I realized I couldn’t take it anymore and was becoming weaker by the minute since I couldn’t even keep water down. Now that I know the hospital system so well, I knew emerg would be my best course of action. I needed an IV of fluids stat. Off we went – on Chris’s birthday too – poor guy. 

I always have to be upfront with the nurses and doctors at the hospital right from the start. Let them know I do have stage 4 cancer and I just came off of chemotherapy. I know the drill. My immune system is compromised and no one can risk leaving me out with all of the sick patients for too long. We waited approximately an hour or so and then were shown into our own room. 

From here I thought it was going to be easy, hook me up with some saline and then ship me off. Wrong. I always forget how much weight my disease carries. Food poisoning was their best case scenario, and they were starting at the worst – that this whole thing was cancer related. It didn’t even dawn on me once that that is what could be the issue. The doctor wanted to run multiple blood tests and a urine test to rule out any sort of infection. Even my temperature being only two degrees higher than normal had them concerned and they began monitoring that – which was super annoying because I was freezing and was only allowed a thin sheet. 

After being at the hospital for 7 hours now, the tests results came back fine – and yet they were still concerned. If I wasn’t scheduled by my regular doctors for a CT scan the following week, they would have ordered one for me that night. It is fantastic that our health system cares so much for patients like myself – I guess I better start taking my disease as serious as they do. I know it is horrible, but I never think that every single time I feel sick it may be cancer related. I mean I guess I should? But who really wants to live like that. The ER doctor gave me the option to stay over night so I could be monitored. By this point I was able to keep fluids down for the past two hours. I opted to go home but promised if I was sick one more time either that night or the next day, I would come right back. Too bad they don’t have a test to prove it was food poisoning, would have been a much shorter trip. 

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Hospitals Are Fun

It has been one full week now since I have been home from the hospital. I had high hopes going in that this time would be different. If they knew the drugs that did not work for me, I would be in the clear. Nope, wrong again. It started off so well I thought. I woke up from my surgery and was almost fully lucid by Monday night. Tuesday morning they removed the drainage tube running down my nose into my stomach (I did not have this last time…. not fun). By Tuesday afternoon they were moving me out of the ICU and into the surgery ward. Then there was Wednesday. The morning of this day is foggy to me, but I know by the afternoon my pulse had risen to 160 and I thought I was dying. Seriously though. I would look the the clock and a minute would feel like an hour. I actually thought, “Well, this is how I die”. In order to try and get my heart rate under control, a doctor came in and said something to me, but all I could make out was, “….going to hurt a lot…. stop your heart…. could control your heart rate….”. Since I thought I was dying anyways, I was willing to try anything at this point. Now, I am not sure how they did it – but I know it happened. My heart stopped and I arched my back so fast in pain. Sure enough, I was back down in the ICU that night. Thursday morning I was told they would like to put in a drain in my side to release fluid building up around my liver. Another procedure to be done while I am awake? Can’t wait! This time there was no singing or high fives – just a lot of crying. Hallucinations came and went for the next few days, but by Saturday I was well enough to move back to the ward. By Monday the vac was off my wound, and they pulled the drain out from my side (now that again…. was not fun). Tuesday afternoon came and I was good to go and on my way home.

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Sir?

Would you like to hear something hilarious? A few days ago I was called “sir”. Yep, that’s right – “And sir what kind of sub would you like?”. After hearing my voice that young boy proceeded to fumble over the bread. No more than 3 days later a young lady at the gas station said – “Ooo I like your hair cut”. The way the world works is so strange.

Well, just 4 days left till surgery. 4 days left till a 20% of liver failure. That is the statistic that seems to be sticking in my mind. 20%. I know that number could be worse… but who wants a chance at liver failure at all? The positive side is I see myself back at work. I see myself working and laughing at the past. Little thoughts like this get me through the statistics.

These next few days are quite busy for me. I am trying to do as much as possible since I know I will be laying on my rear for the next few weeks. Wish me luck! I will be in the hospital for a week so once I am feeling like myself again I’ll post about my time :).

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